Digest — March 2004
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
The Sword and the RIB
|Two anglers in a rubber boat battle a hell-bent, behemoth billfish.|
Big-game fishing can offer its participants surreal and magical moments that can also make instant legends out of fish and anglers. Long Island, New York native and avid big-game angler John P. Picone had his moment last summer as he traded blows with an almost-12-foot-long, 405-pound swordfish, a fish that would’ve made Zane Grey jealous. However, Picone didn’t engage this beastly billfish from the comfort of a fighting chair aboard his 65-foot Viking On The Edge. Oh no. Picone fought this fish from his 13-foot RIB, Little Edge.
“I’m a regular canyon fisherman,” Picone says as he tells me the story of his offshore adventure, adding that he’s always looking for ways to enhance his big-game experience. Several years ago he saw a video of West Coast fishermen who were targeting 200-pound-class yellowfin tuna from RIBs because their motherships were too big to be fishing-functional. Their method involves setting the hook and letting the effort of towing the RIB tire the fish, a scaled-down version of the old-time Nantucket whalers’ “sleigh ride.” Picone liked the idea and borrowed it. Three years ago he bought Little Edge and fitted it out with three spreader lights, a mast with rod holders, two more rod holders forward, a GPS, a VHF, and three big batteries to keep all the gear powered up. Picone has created what is essentially a miniature battlewagon.
He says when it’s time to fish, he launches Little Edge from On The Edge and attaches the two via a 150-foot tether. He also tilts the RIB’s outboard to prevent fishing lines from getting tangled under Little Edge. All he keeps onboard the RIB to end a battle is a six-inch-gap gaff, which is not a lot when you’re fishing a 100-fathom curve and a sizeable fish could grab your line at anytime. Picone says the first time they hooked up an 80-pound yellowfin on the inflatable, his mate accidentally dropped the fish with the gaff still in it. The tuna sounded, but Picone eventually brought the fish back to the boat. His now-frustrated mate—determined to not lose the fish again—grabbed the yellowfin by the gills and hauled it into the RIB. But when you’re in a 13-footer, sometimes you can’t muscle a fish—especially when the fish is almost as big as your boat.
This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.